Tim's Reviews > The Castle in the Forest

The Castle in the Forest by Norman Mailer
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's review
May 13, 2009

did not like it

What impression does Norman Mailer's first novel in more than a decade leave? It's probably irony. Promoted as an exploration of the struggle between good and evil, The Castle in the Forest comes off making Adolf Hitler, a poster child of evil, little more than relatively commonplace. In addition, while Mailer writes as well as ever, his talents largely serve to make staying with a relatively plodding story less trying.[return][return]Mailer's novel purports to use Hitler's life from birth to approximately age 16 as a vehicle to explore the nature of evil. Yet most of the book focuses on Hitler's father, Alois, including his uncertain parentage and the extent to which that rendered Adolf "a First-Degree Incestuary." Throw in extensive discussion of beekeeping, a lengthy diversion about the coronation of Tsar Nicholas and a seeming fascination with excrement and sex and you begin to wonder where the battle between good and evil went.[return][return]The story is told by D.T., a middle-ranking demon among Satan's minions. He is called D.T. because, when we first meet him, he inhabits the body of an SS intelligence officer named Dieter. Satan, usually called "the Maestro" or occasionally "the Evil One," assigned the as yet unborn Adolf as D.T.'s client, a "project" D.T. is to monitor. Yet the ultimate message seems to be that those imbued with evil of Hitlerian proportions are born with it and what occurs in their formative years merely fine tunes and reinforces the necessary traits.[return][return]Balance of review at http://prairieprogressive.com/?p=967

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